How do you keep your cool in the face of a barrage of questions?

(13 Posts)
JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 18:36:31

Would appreciate your thoughts on this please Wise People...

How do you manage to remain calm and composed when being questioned about your work by management? When I say questioned, I mean a barrage of questions, one after the other, without being given the chance to answer each one before another one is fired at you?

I found myself in this situation last week, and in the end I just sat back and said "I feel like I'm being battered here" which sort of calmed things down.

At this point you are probably thinking (as was I ) that I must be doing a crap job. However later on I had a message from said manager to say I'm doing a really good job and not to be disheartened, they were just trying to help.

So... have you ever found yourself in this situation? How would you remain calm and composed, even when you feel you are being 'got at'? My immediate reaction is to go into defensive mode.

And just as importantly, any ideas how to repair the relationship after my reaction?

Many thanks

OP’s posts: |
HollowTalk Sat 19-Oct-19 18:38:19

I would hate that. They should show you some respect and give you time to answer each question before asking another.

JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 18:43:38

That's what I thought Hollow. I felt so angry at the time and afterwards.

Unfortunately this person is part of the management team and so my strategies as a result of this are:
1. How do I handle this better next time?
2. How can I repair the relationship following my (defensive) reaction?

I have no interest in complaining about it, or freezing this person out, I have to make it work...

OP’s posts: |
HollowTalk Sat 19-Oct-19 18:46:31

Is it one person who asks a ton of questions or is it a group of them?

7Worfs Sat 19-Oct-19 18:47:46

That’s crap, OP, but it’s a great opportunity to master managing up.
Practice being calm and smiling, and talking slowly. This should become your natural stance at work.

People who remain calm and pleasant in every circumstance are highly valued by all.

To get past the defence mode will take practice - slow breathing engaging your tummy works well (as opposed to shallow chest breathing).
You also need to recognise irrational fear that kicks fight or flight instinct, and remain cool and confident.

Hope this makes sense, I’m sure there’s materials online about this.

You said the right thing about feeling under attack - the only way to make it better is to say it in a pleasant way, so that you assert yourself without seeming scared/aggressive.

JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 18:48:24

Just to add, as far as I know I have done nothing to upset this person. I have been proactive in getting them involved in the project, booking catch up meetings etc.

And have tried to be sociable at appropriate times, such as asking about recent holiday when in the canteen, etc.

So it's all very strange. And stressful.

OP’s posts: |
JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 18:52:46

"People who remain calm and pleasant in every circumstance are highly valued by all."

So true.
I've just never been able to master this.
I really want to.
But I take things personally, I know I do, which can be a weakness.

OP’s posts: |
thehorseandhisboy Sat 19-Oct-19 18:53:55

What has worked for me is to make a conscious and deliberate effort to not get caught up in the other person's anxiety/time agenda.

So as soon as they start, I used to say that I needed to go to the loo/finish something so that I could give them my full concentration.

Then I would sit down with a pen and paper so that I could write down anything that I didn't want to forget. Ask for a minute to think before you answer.

Then I used to do similar to what you described - saying 'you've asked me at least three questions now and I haven't had time to answer any of them'. And then just pause, letting this sink in.

I think you handled it well tbh, and the fact that the manager emailed you later to say that you're doing a great job suggests that the relationship doesn't really need repairing.

milliefiori Sat 19-Oct-19 18:55:19

Try and nip it in the bud. So as soon as a second question i sasked, put your hand up and say, 'Hang on. I can only answer one question at a time. Give me a chance to think.'

If they all come out in a torrent, wait for it to end, then say, 'That was about twenty questions. Which would you like me to answer first?

And yes, stay calm. Sounds like the other person is panicking or feels out of the loop.

Giraffecantdanse Sat 19-Oct-19 18:56:45

I agree with 7worfs. Remember to breath. I always try to hold back my reaction until I've had time to think, and I use delaying tactics. In the case you describe, I might say.
"Have you finished? Now let's go through those questions one by one"
If there's ever a question I don't know the answer to I say "That's a good question. I don't know the answer right now, but I'll get back to you"

As for fixing the relationship, I wouldn't do anything. Carry on being professional with all your dealing. Don't apologise (mainly because as far as I can tell you have nothing to apologise for). Just show confidence, even when you don't feel it.

JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 19:01:39

Thank you all for your responses.

Some of the suggestions made are great. I think I'm the back of my mind I know what I should do, but at the time it feels like a pressure cooker and I cannot (as I hard as I try) remain light and breezy about it. I really really wish I could.

OP’s posts: |
7Worfs Sat 19-Oct-19 19:07:39

It comes with practice. My fight or flight used to get triggered if someone doesn’t reply to me or does not return a smile, and I was in full panic at the first whiff of confrontation.
The more you remain calm through difficult conversations, the easier it will get.

JamRok Sat 19-Oct-19 19:21:28

Thank you 7.

Any further thoughts or experiences?

OP’s posts: |

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